In October, in the small village of Meille, directly downriver from the Nepalese base, people started dying; many within hours of becoming ill, and all with an unknown intestinal illness. The first confirmed cholera case was a young man from the same village who became ill on October 14th, 2010; the Artibonite River is the region's primary source of water.
As the International Community (IC); 12,000 UN Troops; 12,000 Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs); the weak Haiti Government; and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) led by Bill Clinton and Haiti's prime minister Max Bellerive stand by, thousands of Haitians are dying from a disease that is both easily prevented and easily treated.
The Haitian Government, already weak from decades of International interference, was devastated by Haiti's January 12, 2010 catastrophic earthquake and is not able to provide even basic provisions for Haitians. Instead Haitians are dependent on NGOs and foreign aid. Neither is accountable to the Haitian Government or the people.
In a December 20th candid interview Brazilian diplomat Ricardo Seitenfus said There exists a maleficent or perverse relationship between the NGOs’ strength and the Haitian state’s weakness. Ricardo Seitenfus did a great service in speaking out. Unfortunately he is now former diplomat; the Organization of American States fired him as its representative in Haiti.
The UN's Peacekeeping force in Haiti, called the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), is ostensibly there to provide security. Yet as women and children are raped and victimized at alarming rates, crime runs rampant in IDP camps. Greedy landowners use violence and intimidation to illegally evict Haitians from the homeless camps the 12,000 MINUSTAH troops stand idly by and crime goes unaccounted for, unchecked and women remain unprotected.
It is an appalling lack of accountability; for the powerful, anything goes when dealing with Haiti's poor. Garaudy Laguerre (one of the many 2010 Presidential candidates) expressed the lack of accountability well,"Too often, Haitians die without reasons and without consequences. This time, there will be consequences." Unfortunately not likely.
All available evidence points to the UN Nepalese troops as the source of cholera in Haiti. MINUSTAH Officials continue to deny it and the International press obediently broadcasts the propaganda. And they are, yet again, getting away with it. How did cholera, a disease that has been absent from Haiti for decades, get to Haiti? Why, with the billions donated, is so little being done?
US and IC policy are directly responsible for cholera reemergence in Haiti: in 2000 the US blocked IBD loans to Haiti that were designated to upgrade Haiti's water system: in 2004 the US, after removing Aristide from office, closed, looted and then occupied the teaching hospital that Aristide began; and there is the unmet pledges and the unspent aid money. US and IC priorities become clear when they respond to the cholera epidemic by insisting the sham elections elections go on regardless of its effects on containing the epidemic, and instead of giving IDP residents jobs, clean water, safety, and millions in aid, money is given out in contracts for sweatshops and "security."
This is the tragic story of cholera in Haiti. The country was already suffering from the failed recovery effort, and in the middle of hurricane season with 1.3 million Haitians still living in Internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. If we look at the responses by (Not all NGOs, but the majority of them and not all aid workers but...) NGOs, the IC, the US and Haiti's tiny class of elite, we can glimpse into some of the struggles of the country's poor.
The response to Haiti's soaring cholera epidemic by NGOs, the IC, the US, Haiti's tiny class of elite and the International Press is indicative how the "humanitarian aid system" generally works in Haiti. A close examination of the response may allow us a glimpse into the lives of those who depend on this system.
Cholera in Haiti is the bitter consequences of US and IC greed and unfettered capitalism in Haiti. Both the well meaning and opportunists contribute to the oppression, exploitation and degradation of Haitians; these are some of the major insults:
As it unfolds we witness the devastating effects US and IC policies have in Haiti. This is my attempt at a timeline of the cholera epidemic.
Cholera thousands dead hundreds of thousands ill: As of January 28th 4000 deaths and 250,000 infected by a disease that had been absent from Haiti for decades.
Setting the Stage for Disaster
- In 2000 the US Illegally for Political Reasons Blocked Aid Money that was Designated to Upgrade Haiti's Water System in the Infected Area in Artibonite St. Marc Region!
as the story unraveled:
Cholera is an extremely virulent water-born disease. It is spread by faeces tainted water or contaminated food and is prevented with clean (treated or potable) water.
Cholera in Haiti is a clear and direct example of the devastating effects of US policy.
Joia Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer PIH, broke the story, In 2000, a set of loans from the Inter American Development Bank to the government of Haiti for water, sanitation and health were blocked for political reasons. Oct 22, 2010
On Democracy Now Dr. Even Lyon said that there is a direct line from the US blocking the loan, to cholera ending up in Haiti now.
PIH: US blocked humanitarian AID that was designated to upgrade water system in the Artibonite St. Marc ! In 2000, a set of loans from the Inter American Development Bank to the government of Haiti for water, sanitation and health were blocked for political reasons. The city of St. Marc (population 220,000) and region of the lower Artibonite (population 600,000) were among the areas slated for upgrading of the public water supply.
- Video Democracy Now PIH Partners in Health Physician on Haiti: "Cholera Will Not Go Away Until Underlying Situations that Make People Vulnerable Change" 10-26-10
DR. EVAN LYON: The Inter-American Development Bank recognized that water systems were vulnerable in 1997, approved loans around $54 million in 1998 to come to Haiti to improve water systems, recognizing how important this is to maintaining public health. In 2000, 2001, based on political considerations, trying to pressure the Haitian government to proceed with some electoral changes, the US Treasury Department, which has a majority voting stake in the IDB, pressured the IDB to slow down loan disbursement....Brian Concannon Founder and Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti IJDH in an interview with Daily Kos Haiti Diary agreed I agree with Evan's comments about the historical context.
So we have a direct line: showing a recognition that water systems are vulnerable, the need for loans to come out to repair these life-saving infrastructures, and then a slowdown, a decade-long slowdown, which has a tremendous effect on the population at large. And now, in this period after the earthquake, when people are moving out of the city into the countryside, where health resources are scattered and less available, it has made the population vulnerable. And I think it’s reasonable to draw a straight line from these loans being slowed down and cut off to the epidemic that emerged a week ago.
Setting the Stage for Disaster Ⅱ
Cholera is especially dangerous because of its short duration. It often kills within hours of first symptoms. It is easily treated with rehydration and antibiotics but many people don't get help on time.
It is deadly because of lack of accessible health care. From October 14, 2010 to January 28, 2011, 4000 thousand Haitians have died and this is the story of US-Haiti policy.
The US sent Marines to Haiti in the middle of the night and "escorted" Aristide out of Haiti under the threat of mass blood shed in Port-au-Prince. The US then went about reversing the progress Aristide made, including--his pride and joy--the teaching hospital he started. US Marines closed, looted and then set up barracks there; and, along with MINUSTAH, occupied the space, until recently.
Thousand of Haitians are now dying from an easily treated disease because of lack of accessible health care.
Cholera in Haiti is a clear example of the devastating effects of US policy and unchecked capitalism where greed is the sole motivation and Haitian lives are inconsequential.
... on the evening of February 28, 2004, Aristide was overthrown and forcibly removed to the Central African Republic in an internationally organized coup d’état. Less than one month after its opening, the hospital and the university complex of which it was a part, were closed down at gunpoint and occupied by U.S. Marines and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). The 247 new medical students watched as their classrooms were turned into barracks, their instructors forced to flee from political persecution (due to threats on his life, Dr. Polynice fled to Europe), and much of their material and equipment pillaged to service the capital's private medical clinics.
Setting The Stage For Disaster: The Maintenance of the status quo is kills Ⅲ
- Red Cross Delivers Untreated, Non-potable Water to IDP Camps!!
Amid news of cholera hitting Port-au-Prince Haiti's Capital,October 23rd Al Jazeera interviewed the American Red Cross', Country Director, who admits the water he delivers to Haiti's IDP camps is non-drinkable. He says the Red Cross tells people to boil it, while acknowledging that people in IDP camps lack the fuel and equipment to boil it. The Red Cross Director said they deliver untreated, non-potable water because it is very hard to deliver safe drinkable water.
Red Cross raised hundreds of millions supposedly to help Haitians; Red Cross, as well as other NGOs, were completely unprepared for cholera and the pending hurricane season.
As co-Chair of IHRC Bill Clinton has the power to redistribute land.
In the months after the January 12 earthquake, the Haitian parliament voted to cede power to the Interim Commission to Reconstruct Haiti (IHRC), comprised of foreign bankers and governments along with 13 members of Haiti’s elite. The IHRC has the right to seize land and redistribute it, and can do so without any prior consultation with Haitian Civil Society or impacted communities.However, the job was given to arich landowner, who used the position to enrich himself.
October 4th US urged to stop Haiti rice subsidies. Clinton's admission he was wrong means nothign as the US continues the policy and his Commission pushes the same neoliberal policies in Haiti (Wesleyan Professor Alex Dupuy: Haiti Transformed into the "Republic of the NGOs" )
There is much more...
Cholera's journey to Haiti
Facing an onslaught of reports (there are new reports with no better news) slamming the recovery effort: “We’ve Been Forgotten”: Conditions in Haiti’s Displacement Camps Eight Months After the Earthquake (IJDH); Unstable Foundations: Impact of NGOs on Human Rights for Port-au-Prince’s Internally Displaced People (Mark Schuller); “We Became Garbage to Them” Inaction and Complicity in IDP Expulsions — A Call to Action to the U.S. Government (International Action Ties); The Total Failure of Global Aid in Haiti Report by Refugee International:
Aid donors were forced to tout a rather underwhelming achievement—the absence of water-borne diseases like typhoid, diphtheria and cholera—as evidence of progress;
Fittingly the USAID issued a fact sheet on October 15th that claimed that Humanitarian aid had met the water requirement for earthquake survivors.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's response to the criticism was even worse. September 21, 2010: Hillary Scolds Displaced Haitians and Other Whiners for Being 'Impatient' and 'Unrealistic'9/21/10 this is unbelievable
Especially when weeks later....
In October, in the small village of Meille, directly downriver from the Nepalese base people started dying...Haitians were terrified as they watched friends and loved ones suddenly become ill and die within hours of onset.
Word of unknown illness and people dying spread
On October 20th Haitian radio reported mysterious deaths in the Northern Artibonite area from an unknown disease tests underway.
However the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considered cholera extremely unlikely due to the absence of the bacteria in Haiti. October 21st Haitian Health Minister called it an imported disease and Haitian politicians including Preval agreed.
Haiti Epidemic Advisory System SitRep: 21 OCTOBER Updated 1246 GMT, 21 OCTOBER 2010 NOTE: The Advisory System has been reactivated now to support the current cholera epidemic. Jerry Chandler
October 21, 2010 Cholera Confirmed
- Cholera outbreak behind Haiti deaths: health official (AFP) – 1 hour ago
PORT-AU-PRINCE — An outbreak of cholera was to blame for dozens of deaths in Haiti in recent days, a health official said Thursday. . . .Cholera in Haiti - we are looking at a catastrophe
Health officials said earlier that at least 50 people had died from acute diarrhea and hundreds were being treated in local hospitals as laboratory tests were carried out to determine the cause of the illness. . . .
"According to the results of the analysis carried out in the laboratory it is cholera," Surena confirmed to AFP of the outbreak in Saint Marc, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital.
On October 21st, when cholera was confirmed, questions arouse.
The disease was absent from Haiti for decades and it didn't start in the squalid tent camps where disease was expected (although cholera was said to be unlikely even there considering absence of the bacteria from Haiti). On October 21st Haitian Health Minister called it an imported disease and Haitian politicians including Preval agreed.
Fear grew as reports of the illness being Cholera spread
tidocchandler: an "outbreak" of diarrheal disease thought to have killed approximately 40 individuals and caused "genuine panic".
We have been tracking both Twitter and French media reports of an "outbreak" of diarrheal disease thought to have killed approximately 40 individuals and caused "genuine panic". This is the official comment from PAHO:(bold added)
MINUSTAH,Cholera and the small Village of Meille
The Nepalese base is located in the village of Meille, just outside the town of Mirebalias on the Artibonite's riverside. The river is the primary source of water for the region. Al Jazeera interviews resident This water behind me, we drink it, points to Artibonite River, we wash our clothes with it, we cook with it; our water safety situation here is a catastrophe," Renel Consonde, a resident, said. So, of course residents complained when sewage from the Nepalese latrines spurted out of broken pipes and flowed into their river. They complained of the horrible stench coming from the base. The Mayor of Mirebalias contacted UN Officials and tried to get something done about the UN base's horrendous sanitation. The UN never responded. They were ignored. Days later the residents started dying.
AP Mayor of Mirebabais: Lochard, the mayor, said he had told Nepalese officers not to place the landfill sites in that location but never received feedback from peacekeeping headquarters in Port-au-Prince.
Map of Cholera outbreak and water installation.
The UN's response or lack thereof to Haitian Officials from the Ministry of Health to Preval himself position cholera was imported to Haiti is telling in terms of who has the power in Haiti.
Haitians called paranoid and foreigners accused of playing the blame game When they asked questions. The International media parroted MINUSTAH talking points. why weren't Haitians' allegations taken seriously?
October 24, 2010 Port-au-Prince Fears the Worst As Cholera Spreads in Haiti
“It’s killing people – of course, I’m scared. We’re in the mouth of death,” 25-year-old Boudou Lunis, one of 1.3 million made homeless by the quake living in temporary settlements, told the Miami Herald.As the news of the deaths spread, Haitians' reports about the Nepalese troops appalling sanitation issues and their suspicion that the troops brought the disease to Haiti were ignored by UN Officials and mocked as superstitious by the International Press. Not once was there an article in the mainstream media (MSM) that considered how terrifying it would be if members of your family and community started dying. How infuriating it would be if UN troops came to their neighborhood, allowed their sewage to run into the local reservoir.
When asked why he refused to investigate Haitians claims about the Nepalese troops UN envoy Edmond MuletUN envoy Edmond Mulet "It was such a minor thing, like we have every day," Mulet said. "We didn't know this was going to be an epidemic."
- October 28th Haitian (AP Jonathan Katz) Local politicians including a powerful senator and the mayor of Mirebalais are pointing the finger at the Nepalese peacekeeping base, which is perched above a source of the Meille River, a tributary to the Artibonite River on Haiti's central plateau. The Artibonite River has been the source of most infections, which remain concentrated in the rural area surrounding it — mostly down river from the mouth of the Meille.
- November 19, 2010 UN worries its troops caused cholera in Haiti Mullet ignored Haitians even Powerful Senators
- All Available Evidence Points to the Nepalese as source of cholera
The Nepalese base is located in the village of Meille; After a summer of cholera outbreaks A new deployment of troops was sent to Haiti in 3 groups: 1st Oct 9th; 2nd Oct 12th; 3rd Oct. 16th. Nepalese sewage was videotaped running into the Artibonite river; Cholera is endemic in Nepal; Residents complained that the Nepalese troops sewage was flowing into the Artibonite River and leaving a stench in the air. A few days later, people started dying. Mayor of Mirebabais: Lochard, the mayor, said he had told Nepalese officers not to place the landfill sites in that location but never received feedback from peacekeeping headquarters in Port-au-Prince.; AP Jonathan Katz reported that the Lab under contract with MINUSTAH since 2004 and it is not equipped to test for cholera. Mulet and Pugliese claimed the troops did not have cholera but later admitted they did not test the soldiers. They should have been tested immediately because 75 percent of people infected with cholera have no symptoms but can spread it for two weeks; the Artibonite River is the region's primary source of water.
October 22nd the Ministry of Health Alex Larsen, said thedisease was imported;
Experts agree with Haitians
- December 7, 2010 1st study traces Haitian cholera to South AsiaFrench Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux
- December 21, 2010 2nd study traces Haitian cholera to South Asia by Harvard researcher Dr. Matthew Waldor & Head of Harvard University's microbiology department, cholera specialistJohn Mekalanos
That indicates that cholera was introduced by people, rather than arriving through ocean currents or arising within Haiti, as has been suggested, said Harvard researcher Dr. Matthew Waldor.
- UN probes base as source of Haiti cholera outbreak 10-27-10 --303 people have died and 4,722 hospitalized. UN Denies that excrement leaks into the river. But AP made an unannounced visit and confirms residents stories.
The U.N. issued a statement on Tuesday defending the base. It said the Nepalese unit there uses seven sealed septic tanks built to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, emptied every week by a private company to a landfill site a safe 820 feet (250 meters) from the river.
But those are not the conditions AP found on Wednesday.
A buried septic tank inside the fence was overflowing and the stench of excrement wafted in the air. Broken pipes jutting out from the back spewed liquid. One, positioned directly behind latrines, poured out a reeking black flow from frayed plastic pipe which dribbled down to the river where people were bathing.
Nigel Fisher, chief of the U.N. humanitarian mission in Haiti
spokesman Vincenzo Pugliese confirmedAfter protests, in November, Mulet admits it is important to know source but doubtful that it would be found.U.N. troops hurt, attacked by Haitians blaming foreigners for cholera epidemic"I listen to the radio every day, and there is a lot of discussion about the source of the outbreak," said U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten. "It is my understanding the science is not definitive." He added that the Haitian government has stressed that placing blame for a communicable disease is not what is important now.Nigel Fisher, chief of the U.N. humanitarian mission in Haiti, who stressed that the source would probably never be known.
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon says that the World Health Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization now estimate that the cholera epidemic in Haiti could affect as many as 650,000 people over the next six months.As of December 3, 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continues to claim it is nearly impossible to determine source of cholera. We may never be able to fully answer these complex, difficult questions, but they deserve our best efforts.
And finally in December 15th AP UN calls for probe into origin of Haiti cholera; although UN is choosing investigators and the UN had to admit to AP reporter Jonathan Katz that they cleaned the Nepalese base and replaced pipes the pipes and it is past the two weeks when testing soldiers could have revealed one of them as the source. The UN is allowing an investigation after they destroyed the evidence.
January 14th, 2011 CNN interview with Mulet: he says investigation will take two months. Process is taking time because they are doing the planning to build back better. Mulet said Haiti are better off now than before EQ &investigating source.He said waste of time
International press pound the image of Haitians being violent Haiti Cholera Death Toll Soars Past 3000
Experts say the outbreak was likely sparked by a human source from outside the region and the United Nations has promised a thorough investigation into the origin of the epidemic.
Angry mobs in the deeply superstitious nation have stoned or hacked to death at least 45 people - most of them voodoo priests - accusing them of spreading the water-borne bacterial infection.
Insult to Injury: Underfunded Cholera effort
- UN Admits that IC is not doing all it can to stop cholera in Haiti because of lack of Funds
Haiti - Epidemic : The cholera threatens 2.2 million children
OCHA says that cholera prevention efforts in schools have been delayed due to lack of adequate funding. Recalling that the international community's response to the appeal for emergency funds launched by the UN, November 12, 2010, amounting to 164 million dollars [since increased to 174 million] to help contain the epidemic has been inadequate. Only $ 44 million (25%) have been received so far.Haiti - Minustah : Budget 2010-2011, $865 MM !
While, that the appeal for emergency funds of $164 million, launched on November 12 by the United Nations (UN) near its member countries to fight against the cholera epidemic in Haiti, has so far collected $ 32.9 million (20.06%) , the Secretary General of the United Nations does not seem to have the same difficulties to obtaining over $865 MM for the operating budget of Minustah in Haiti...Harsh Words for Haiti Aid Industry from Doctors Without Borders MSF deserves credit for speaking out and the work they have done treating cholera. They will definitely be on fundraising list!
It is against this backdrop that many non-governmental agencies have launched fundraising appeals, even while their post-earthquake coffers remain filled. The UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has repeatedly claimed that underfunding of its $174m cholera appeal, launched primarily to benefit private groups, is hampering the response – despite the fact that Haiti is the top-funded UN appeal for 2010. As nearly a million Haitians remain homeless in the face of a full-blown public health emergency, arguments that existing funds are tied up in longer-term programmes ring hollow.
Insult to Injury: Underfunded Cholera effort
Distribuitng treated water helps slow down/prevent spread?
Water is a more serious concern: donors have cut off emergency water rations at the end of 2010 in at least four camps studied. The last water distribution for Cité Soleil camps Tapis Vert (20,000 people) and Camp Nielo (763 people) was December 31. "This doesn't make sense. We're in a crisis!" said a WASH cluster employee. "To turn the spigot off while we're in the middle of a cholera epidemic is tantamount to genocide."Law in the Time of Cholera: Violations of the Right to Water in Haiti
For cholera, a disease that is water borne and kills by dehydration, access to clean water is imperative to both prevention and treatment. Despite this, the cholera response has not led to significant improvements in access to clean water....
The international community of donor countries and humanitarian agencies share the responsibility. Follow ing the January 12 earthquake, they assumed a duty when they requested and received billions of dollars to meet the needs of the displaced. Rather than supporting the capacity of the government to build sanitation facilities and water systems, the money went directly to NGOs who adopted the responsibility for water provi sion in the camps....
Human rights law mandates that every person must have a supply of water that is sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. Yet when it comes to water availability, Camp Kasim is still among the “lucky.” Over 40 percent of IDP camps surveyed in October did not have any water supply at all.
Drinking dirty water is not the result of a lack of education but a lack of alternatives; 39 percent of respondents in a study conducted by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) in July reported that they drank from tanks and cisterns even though they feared it was contaminated because they have no other options.
The Final Insult
On October 21st test results confirmed the illness was cholera. The villagers told the authorities that the Nepalese troops were the source of the cholera. Nobody listened. The International Press mocked the villagers and disrespected their religion. Nobody cared.
As of January 30th 4,030 Haitians have died from cholera. The UN and NGOs efforts to stop cholera are underfunded, while they have millions of dollars, collected in Haitians' names, sitting in their bank accounts while Haitians die.
The International Community has no regard for Haitians' lives. When they warn us, we do not hear. When they die the US (policy makers) and IC do not mourn.